Anthroposophy

What is anthroposophy? Even the anthroposophists themselves have trouble describing it, so whatever I say here will not be acceptable to them I am sure. Trying to pin down a Steiner follower on exactly what they believe is not easy, but ask one which bits of anthroposophy they disagree with and no answer will be forthcoming; Steiner was clairvoyant you see – so how could he have been wrong?

(Steinerspeak is in bold)

Anthroposophy is essentially a belief system or ‘path’ where followers can expect rewards in the form of good karma, and reincarnation towards a spiritual state where they have awareness and Insight unavailable to the rest of us.

Followers of this new age type religion invented by Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) practice meditation and follow the Indications of their guru as laid down very specifically and in great detail in his books and lectures.

The beliefs come largely from Steiner’s deep involvement in Theosophy as a young man. He left the theosophists when it became too ‘Eastern’ for him and proceeded to set up his own organisation, the Anthroposophical society. This involves a more Westernised form of esotericism, with the special Steiner version of reincarnation included, and the horrible notion of karma as an explanation for misfortune in a current incarnation– for example being bullied in school. Steiner beliefs are often described as Christian to potential recruits in order to present a respectable image, but an examination reveals discrepancies and a chasm between these and conventional Christian belief.

The headquarters of the Anthroposophical society and of the school of Spiritual Science is at the Goetheanum in Switzerland and it is from here that activities in schools, colleges, medical centres and biodynamic farms around the world are directed. Ultimately all Steiner businesses are answerable here.

Most of the similar gurus of his age are now forgotten, but Steiner managed to create a cult around himself whereby his clairvoyant “visions”, were elevated to the status of wisdom by his admirers.

His proclamations were wide ranging and lengthy, and many are available to read on the Rudolf Steiner Archive. So for example if you want to know why Steiner followers (including school teachers) recite Steiner verses (prayers to the Steiner sun god) delay reading and writing in school, practice eurythmy, take the existence of gnomes and undines seriously, and believe that Autism is caused by bad karma, this is the place to go.

If you don’t have the stomach for reading a 19th century mystic’s ideas about angels and elemental beings, Atlantis and root races, seek out one of the many Steiner critical websites.

If you are sceptical about these beliefs being taken seriously 90 years after Steiner’s death, look no further than the Anthroposophical Society, the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, or any of the many other websites run by Steiner followers.

Some of the comments we have received here over the last 2.5 years are pretty astounding too, and often reveal how detached from reality Steiner followers have become.

There are degrees of devotion to anthroposophy; those at the centre – the card carrying members of the first, second and third class of spiritual science, have greater access to the innermost details of the creed (apparently). Those who have read Steiner’s work in depth and live by his directions may consider themselves anthroposophists. Those who work in Steiner organisations may be involved at varying levels, with those at the helm fully immersed. At the outer edge of the circle are the unfortunates who have been drawn in through biodynamic food, sending a child to kindergarten or mistakenly taking a job without realising they are entering a world where all is not as it seems.

Unlike some other religions the Steiner people do not proselytise. The opposite – no information about anthroposophy will be offered until recruits are ensnared. It is enough for them that children and vulnerable people are drawn in to the Steiner lifestyle and are exposed to their ways, thereby opening up access to the spiritual path.

What’s wrong with a spiritual life? Nothing if you have made an informed choice. Plenty is wrong, however, when such a life with its nasty views on, for example, Autism as a result of bad karma is inflicted by stealth. Sadly the results for some families have been very damaging.

The comments below were made on the previous page called anthroposophy, which I have updated. I have left them for anyone who wants to see what kind of points have been raised.

Updated 29th Feb 2016

107 comments

  1. Helen

    Don – if Steiner followers would refrain from running schools and looking after vulnerable adults whilst keeping their beliefs and methods a secret, I wouldn’t be bothering with this at all. I hope that day will come very soon.

    • Helen

      I know why the beliefs are not “shouted from the rooftops”. There would be very few takers for an education or a care system that required participation in the rather odd rituals and beliefs of anthroposophy, if people knew in advance.
      No need to shout, just inform parents and families about how anthroposophy will be used, that’s all. There is no mention of it on a local Steiner school website, and it does not feature in most of the literature available for the “care communities” . It is insulting to recruit people without properly informing them of the beliefs of the staff. How would you like it if you signed up your child for a school only to find the staff and many other families were Amish or Scientologists (for example)? It’s harder to identify anthroposophy devotees than some other religions because they don’t wear funny hats. That doesn’t mean they should be able to conceal their beliefs when asking for support. Plymouth Brethren are quite open about their beliefs when advertising their schools, and Steiner followers have some even more strikingly unusual beliefs than theirs.
      I have had brief experience of working in a Steiner school, by the way, does that count towards informing myself?

    • Nick Nakorn

      Ann, in the spirit of openness; please provide a short bullet-point list of which parts of Anthroposophy you find unacceptable and tell us what you have done to campaign against them.

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